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Behind the scenes banner development at the Making for Change unit

Claire Swift and the Making for Change cohort at the Topping Out ceremony with the Mayor of Waltham Forest, as well as UAL Vice Chancellor James Purnell and Prof. Roni Brown
  • Written byM.Fields
  • Published date 07 October 2021
Claire Swift and the Making for Change cohort at the Topping Out ceremony with the Mayor of Waltham Forest, as well as UAL Vice Chancellor James Purnell and Prof. Roni Brown

Amongst the Topping Out Ceremony celebrations, participants at LCF’s Making for Change unit made an appearance that was bold, colourful and welcome. The showcase of the heart-warming banners added to the spectacle, so LCF Stories caught up with the team involved for an insight into what how things go behind the scenes.

The Topping Out ceremony was a landmark moment for LCF, as it celebrated a checkpoint on the journey to the new campus location in east London. When developing banners for the event, much consideration was given to the wider LCF message as well as Making for Change’s values. Eventually, it was decided that inclusivity would be a key theme both aesthetically and ideologically.

“We spoke to our community of participants, students, designers and asked them to think about what they feel about what Making for Change represents to them,” says Claire Swift, lead of Making for Change and the Director of Social Responsibility at the College.

Three orange shelves worth of assorted fabrics.

Making for Change  collaborate with communities and creatives to innovate socially responsive business and education models. Acting as a hub for social engagement at London College of Fashion, MfC work to disrupt often exclusionary fashion systems.

The Fashion Training and Manufacturing initiative  works with the industry to develop innovative production practices, whilst empowering community participants with vocational skills and commercial experience for their future fashion careers.

“Some themes started to emerge - some of the trainees thought about their own journey, the skills they had learnt, how it has helped them to become more self-confident. We talked about feeling part of and belonging to the LCF community. Equally, we discussed the Making for Change 'family', how everyone feels included and how we support each other, and how up-cycling and sustainability is an important part of what we do.”


The Making for Change initiative is ever-evolving – Claire and the rest of the team at Poplar Works help the trainees identify some of the steps required to improve their development. Paid work experience, job application workshops and connections with local manufacturers are on offer, ensuring that the newly equipped trainees can continue their learnings.

“I always feel very emotional when I witness the participant progress, not least because not everyone's journey is easy,” says Claire. “It's such a proud moment to see them learn, grow and achieve in their educational and personal journeys.”

The banner crafting process started with collating fabrics for the colour palette while using the same backing cloth for all of the banners to remain consistent. Once proportions were decided, each participant created their designs on an A3 sheet of paper. This was then translated into banner form, flush with MfC branding. The experience was not lost on the trainees; Nosira Begum and Bilkis Ahmed were both amazed by the storytelling element of banner-making.

This feeling is at the core of MfC – the focus on providing new experiences through design and fashion manufacturing. In Claire’s own words, “Making for Change provides a safe environment for our trainees to build the skills and self-confidence needed to take charge of their personal journeys.”